Tag: church

Everyone Worships Something: 7 Steps Down the Aisle of Toleration’s Church


“Tolerance” is a doctrine. In theology or education or everyday life, “doctrine” is ever present. Everyone has doctrine since everyone has beliefs. We subscribe to a teaching, dogma, or creed to explain what we believe. Our commitment to that set of teachings limits our acceptance of contrary or adversarial claims. It does not matter if you are a feminist, committed to LGBTQ+, a Baptist preacher, or a conservative talk show host; you have doctrine. Everyone everywhere has doctrine. But in our current cultural moment, identity, ethnic, sexual, and gender politics demand our belief in the doctrine of tolerance.

I will use the metaphors of religious ideas and icons to communicate the cultural doctrine of “tolerance.” First, toleration demands “understanding,” then “acceptance,” then “allegiance,” then “obeisance,” then “conformity,” and ultimately “evangelism.” The ordered steps down the cathedral aisle do not matter as much as the baptismal outcome. Hollywood’s hymnal sings both obvious and subtle references to accepted and rejected points of view. Celebrities must bow before the altar of imposed speech codes. News outlets preach from their pulpits against the latest outrage. The plight of those suffering worldwide is reported only if their deaths reinforce the common book of party prayer. Catechismal teaching reinforces the moment-by-moment commitment to membership in the church of toleration. Excommunication is swift for any who would sin against accepted authority. Reputational ruin comes to anyone daring to cross the received cultural commandments. Toleration’s heaven accepts the culturally righteous who are the tolerant saints wearing white robes of social purity. Toleration’s hell awaits anyone who has rejected salvation offered by the cultural gods of the day.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am tolerant, kind, generous, respectful, and gracious to people, no matter who they are or what they believe. But I will always speak out against ideas — the doctrine of tolerance included — that stand against the doctrines of God’s word.

48 Canadian Churches Vandalized or Burned Down in Past 2 Months


Though barely mentioned in US media, 48 Christian churches in Canada have been vandalized or burned down in the past two months. The latest occurred Monday, when the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Surrey, British Colombia, was destroyed by fire.

Since mid-June, five B.C. churches were set alight, apparently connected to unmarked graves discovered at former residential school sites. The schools were instituted in 1874 as an effort to assimilate native tribes in language, religion, and culture. First Nations children were removed from their families and often moved great distances into the boarding schools. The program officially ended in 1969.

No evidence has shown if the deaths came from natural causes or intentional abuse but most of the Canadian press has presumed the latter. Since the Catholic Church ran 70 percent of these schools, it has borne most of the current backlash. But it didn’t take long for arsonists and vandals to attack churches far from First Nations reserves and unrelated to Catholicism.

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I’ve been steeped in research, gathering photos, matching likenesses to known persons profiled on Wikipedia, and reviewing maps and dates, all the while praying my mind would eventually wrap itself around the largesse of the story, at least to the point I might tell a story that has coherence, drama, a proper arc, and an […]

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The Decapitation Strategy


My first spiritual mentor was a recent seminary graduate serving as the youth pastor of my first church. He spent a lot of time with our little youth ministry team teaching us how to study scripture, introducing us to the great classics, and challenging us with intellectually difficult homework assignments.

He had an affair with one of the high school counselors.

He was out.

Pastor Ché Ahn and Attorney Mathew Staver joined Senior Editor Christopher Bedford to discuss their recent lawsuit against California Gov. Gavin Newsom for his actions in banning religious worship amid the ongoing government lockdown. Ahn is the founder and head pastor at Harvest International Ministry and Harvest Rock Church, and Staver is a founding member of Liberty Counsel.

Ahn argued Gov. Newsom imposed a double standard in shutting down religious services while praising the reckless protests and looting that ensued following the death of George Floyd, despite their lack of compliance with CDC guidelines. Staver said the Constitution makes it clear the government cannot prevent citizens from gathering to worship.

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As if the country did not have enough problems with Big Tech including Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Along comes Churchix. Churchix provides facial recognition software for churches. Now your local cult will know who attends and who does not attend those church services to bring their all-important money to the collection plate. Don’t believe […]

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“Think Globally, Act Locally.” That is a phrase you will sometimes hear from activists. The point is a valid one. You want to change the world? That’s great but the world won’t change on your say so. What you can do is change your household, your neighborhood, your town, and if enough other people do […]

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There Will Be No Beauty Left


No churches with their glowing stained glass windows, no murals, no paintings of Christ with the children, no depictions of Mary being touched by God—all these will disappear if Shaun King has his way. He told his 1.1 million followers that all images of a white Jesus and his ‘European’ mother should be destroyed. White Jesus is a symbol of ‘white supremacy,’ and has been used over the centuries to oppress anyone not white.

How many of his followers will take his pronouncement and follow through with destroying churches, statues of Jesus and Mary, paintings, etc.? Should armed guards be stationed 24/7 to protect “The Last Supper?” What about the statue of Mary and Jesus, “The Pieta?” Wasn’t there an attempt years ago to damage that? How many paintings and murals with a white Jesus also show people of other races? In many of those, Jesus is seated among the people. Would an oppressor feel comfortable enough to sit with those he is supposedly oppressing?

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Reading and watching the news with bemused dismay as government officials, be they town, county, or state, try to lock down people from celebrating Easter, or attending any religious service, I proposed a partial theory to Mr. C.  Because people are not out driving as much, the police aren’t able to issue traffic tickets, which […]

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Never Say Never


I think everyone must have their own “never say never” story, and this is mine. 

I have been involved with my church’s 20s/30s singles group for quite a few years now, and something we’ve done for a long time is discipleship groups (or d-groups). These are small gender-specific groups that meet during the week, usually at someone’s house, for deeper fellowship and Bible study. I really enjoy d-groups and signed up for one right away. But after I had been a member of a d-group a couple of times, our leader, Kelly, started asking me to think about leading or co-leading one. 

Word of the Year


I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.

Why Do Those Wanting to Transform an Institution Almost Always Claim the Institution…


. . .and the people who want to preserve what the institution has stood for must leave and create a new institution to preserve the values of the old institution?

The United Methodist Church, which I recently joined in the hopes of avoiding just such a fracturing, has before it a proposal to split over whether to adhere to traditional church teaching. Although the triggering issue is listed as human sexuality, sexuality is merely the surface issue for a much deeper conflict over many aspects of traditional church doctrine, the authority of scripture, the value of traditions, and questions of how God has related to His people throughout history. But this is not the thread in which to discuss the specifics of the Methodist controversy. For better details on the Methodist proposal, go to the thread entitled, “This Week in the UMC” by @jimchase.

Book Recs for a Recent Catholic


I have recently decided I want to be Catholic after a lifetime of protesting (being Protestant, not being an anti-theist) and am looking for some great books on the history of the Catholic church, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologia, etc. I figured Ricochet would be a good place to ask, given the founder and community here. S o what would you guys recommend?

For anyone wondering what prompted the change, Cupid’s arrow found its mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

How Lame Is Our Awesome God?


“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.

The Dollar Almighty and a Crisis of Faith


This week an Inside Edition video interviewing Kenneth Copeland went viral as part of a disturbing investigation of televangelists living upscale lifestyles. Copeland, and others, are part of a movement from decades ago, preaching a prosperity “gospel,” offering false teachings, and thus, false promises, which have caused many followers heartache mentally, financially, and in their faith. 

We hear stories and jokes all of the time about the crazy cat lady that leaves the entirety of her estate to one of these ministries (see, this clip from the 1997 movie The Rainmaker). However, there is a scary truth to this example, in that the message is solely that prosperity is the only way to God, and if one is suffering, that means Satan is in charge.

It Takes a Village to Make a Village


I’m a third of the way through Tim Carney’s Alienated America and I also thoroughly enjoyed the episode of The Remnant podcast about the book. It’s no surprise to me that I like this book, as the lack of social organizations at a grassroots level is near and dear to my heart, especially when it comes to firearms ownership in America.

Gun owners are being shoved to the side in American culture, and that’s putting the right to self-defense for all Americans in jeopardy.  While my focus is on gun rights, the fact is, the decline of social communities outside of politicas is something that is hurting all Americans. So I ask you, my fellow Ricocheti, what can we as individuals to help re-create and renew the social organizations that once held our country together?

I’ve written about “Warrior Club” as one way to bond over the Second Amendment, but what are some of the other ways we can jump-start American’s involvement in the local community and preserve our other freedoms? The obvious answer is, of course, “go out and join a service organization” or “help coach youth soccer,” and that’s how things will ultimately change. The preservation of individual rights, after all, is up to the individual, not the state. However, the act of preserving our rights does not have to be an uphill climb. In addition to re-invigorating our local churches and service groups, what can we as indivivuals do on a state and national level to make such goals easier to accomplish? What tactical-level goals are out there, and how do we accomplish them?

Suckers for Jesus! Or, Holy Kitsch!


I can’t call it “only in America,” because kitschy and silly, though harmless, religious trinkets seem to be a universal phenomenon. Still, there is something endearingly American about this online Christian storefront, selling Testamints, crucifix-shaped lollies, gourmet Scripture suckers, chocolate tulips (must be for the Calvinists), and little gummy Jesus “footsteps”: show that you walk in His footsteps by eating His feet!

“Take and eat… do this in remembrance of me.” In a religion based on the Eucharist, I suppose it’s not exactly blasphemous to consume Jesus in gummy form, though I doubt my grandmother would have agreed: she would have seen candy shaped like all or any part of Jesus as blasphemously irreverent, even if abstract religious symbols were commonplace in eats where she came from. Part of the wider Christian culture in America is to downplay aesthetic differences: high church or low, contemporary or old-fashioned, why argue adiaphora, huh? At the same time, aesthetics go to the heart of worship: whatever we think “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” means, it only seems fitting to give of our best (whatever that is) in acts of reverence. Religious kitsch occupies a funny place, not just strange, but amusing — and not just amusing to snobs who wish to disdain the rubes. The Babylon Bee, a favorite site of many of us here, often pokes fun at Christian kitsch, and it could hardly be said to disdain American Christians: it pokes fun at the kitsch because it’s run by American Christians.

What even counts as kitsch depends on your background. My grandmother, raised very Lutheran, had pretty exacting standards for what wasn’t kitschy. Were the sanctuary and music too contemporary and informal? Kitschy. Were they too ornate? Kitschy. Most religious statuary and paintings? Also kitschy. That she was Lutheran may have had less to do with her severe standards than the kind of Lutheran she was: she came from a place where Lutherans and “Papists” (Catholics) didn’t quite get along, and when she arrived in America, she was (mostly) eager to assimilate. More eager, she thought, than her Italian neighbors, who might plant a bathtub Madonna in the midst of their front lawn.

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Race, what ever it is specifically, is immutable and can’t be changed.  Race, which I know is incredibly hard to define, defines you in certain ways from birth and you have no control over that.  On the other hand, your culture is something that can and does change.  Culture is a world view that you […]

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